Saturday, January 31, 2009
I have no idea why that conversation that occurred many months ago wound up in my head on the drive home from yet another Pump It Up birthday party, but it did. And, as usual, I started thinking about that quirky little catch phrase of 2008. So just how am I rolling?
Well, today, not very well. I don't handle disappointment. Period. I easily let others' actions dictate my emotions. Ouch and shame on me. And, when I set my heart on a particular course, well, it doesn't change direction easily. Though circumstances are always out of my control, I cling to some earthly notion that I have some sort of clout. I wonder at what point in life, someone with my disposition can refrain from any outward hissy fit throwing, control the inner sadness and disappointment and just let it roll off my back.
I know the answer to that question. It is a peace in knowing that God is in control. Knowing that what comes my way is not only purposed, but perfect. His timing, His plan, His will. Oh, but to put it into practice.
My rolling is not His rolling and I need to come to grips with that. Again.
Friday, January 30, 2009
I had originally planned to post a picture today of my main accomplishment yesterday - three ridiculously heaping baskets of laundry. I just wanted my kids to see, visualize, the ridiculousness of their laundry amounts one day when they read my blog. Obviously, they don't yet appreciate it now. My top priority now is to work on recycling clothing rather than dumping it in the hamper after donning it for 5 minutes. Ethan can do this. Lily can do this. Sadie, well, she is still quite the mess maker with her clothes, so maybe it will be a bit more challenging. But, for some reason, the card from the camera wasn't registering with my laptop and so, no pic for now.
Brings me to another point. We got a new camera and I am STOKED! It is the new Cannon Rebel which is a little bit smaller in size than our previous one, but is an astounding 12.2 megapixels. We moved the old Rebel to work as the office needed a better camera for product shots (a pathetic justification for the purchase). I can't fathom all that this camera offers and have much reading to do. It is a fast taking digital and should take my marginal-at-best photography to a whole new level. Well, I can hope.
Ethan is still home. Time to head to the doctor to make sure this is nothing serious. Post entry - it is strep. Boo hoo!
A bit of a crazy weekend for me. I am taking Sadie to the American Heritage Girls' sleepover at church tonight. Should be somewhere around 70 girls from K - 5th grade. We are going to earn our "dance" badge and watch "Kit Kitteridge". I can't quite imagine the amount of screaming and squealing that might occur. I am hoping for some interesting blog fodder to result.
To counter balance this time in young girl land, I have decided to go to a rock show Saturday night to do my own bit of screaming. I think it has been 10 years or so since I last went to something like this. Maybe I should take earplugs. I am old, what can I say.
I have started reading "Sacred Marriage" by Gary Thomas. As I read compelling thoughts and challenging ideas, I will post them here. The tag line of the book reads, "What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?" Should be a good, but more likely, convincingly painful read.
And, finally, to complete the title appropriately, I am including in this post my 25 Random Things About Me from facebook. I have a feeling this blog may last longer than my foray into facebook and want to have it documented. I have lived a very blessed life. Here it is:
1. I love my friends. I have some of the best and most supportive people in my life and feel very undeserving of them.
2. I like fall, Ocracoke Island, dark chocolate, Dutch cheese, Belgian beer, coffee, singing loudly in my car, Sudoku, and my Miss Piggy t-shirt.
3. I dislike seafood (all of it), snakes, squirrels, winter (I randomly gag when really cold), tequila, baked beans, lake water with slimy bottoms and being scared (scary movies, haunted houses – especially the chainsaw – ack!)
4. I like relationships that are real. We all have issues, trials, no one is perfect. Why try to be something you are not? Why try to hide who you really are?
5. I was on the debate team in high school and LOVED it. Even went to debate camp in the summers. Just call me a geek.
6. I have a freakish fear of steep inclines – and falling down them.
7. Because of #6, I can’t deal with driving up or down in the mountains. I had a near anxiety attack driving the Cascades in WA and felt like I was going to drive off the unbarricaded side at any moment when going only 10 mph.
8. With the exception of about 8 years, I have lived in High Point my entire life. Where else do you live when your dad is a furniture designer?
9. I married a first generation immigrant from the Netherlands who came to the US as a high school exchange student.
10. I worked as an au pair, a.k.a. nanny, with four children in Groningen, The Netherlands right after graduating from UNC with a degree in American Studies (see the irony?)
11. My husband and I didn’t meet during either of those years. Instead, we met many years later through a church in Asheboro, NC.
12. By the age of 22, I had worked at SubCity (yes, by the adult bookstore on S. Main), Noble’s restaurant (most expensive in HP), a teller at Old Stone Bank during every summer and holiday breaks during college , retail clothing (various), the Sears Call Center as a repair appointment operator, and nanny (see #10). Oh, and I donated plasma…once.
13. I love to write. I find it very therapeutic for my over-analyzing self. To make money doing it would be icing on the cake.
14. I have a tattoo of part of a Matisse, which unfortunately, has morphed a bit due to 3 large pregnancies. Ugh!
15. I lost 45 pounds about 5 years ago and have kept it off.
16. I can not handle being yelled at or criticized unfairly. It tears at my soul. Likewise, I hate to make any feel uncomfortable about who they are.
17. I traveled with my three small children, alone, from Europe which included 3 countries, 3 flights, 3x 8 shoe removals, 3 bus transfers, 2 lost bags, 1 stolen PSP and 1 3-hour tarmac delay. I have no real memories of the trip, only random flashbacks.
18. I have my dream scrapbook/craft room, but don’t enjoy working in it alone, therefore don’t use it nearly as often as I would like.
19. I lost my best friend and sister, Ansley, to breast cancer at age 37 which is my current age. Life has not been the same since. I miss her terribly, still. I had a “very concerning” breast cancer scare in August which resulted in 2 biopsies. It was benign! But, I have a 25% chance of having bc in my lifetime which I try to view as my way of getting an “upgrade.”
20. When I was young, my pretend play was as a talk show or informational show host.
21. Sometimes I talk so much that I am embarrassed afterward. I do this A LOT. I know I have a problem.
22. I am a “scanner” which means I want to know about everything, yet, can’t commit to anything, nor am I deeply knowledgeable about anything. I am a dabbler of sorts.
23. I hitchhiked and backpacked my way through southern Africa – including Zimbabwe, S. Africa, Botswana and Zambia.
24. In high school, I drove my 1979 black Ford pick-up with no power steering, no power brakes, no power anything for that matter, and only an AM radio into a lake. I am not kidding.
25. I am a Jesus Freak.
What is random for you today? Let me know.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
"Mom....Mommy," a faint and scratchy voice called me from my bedside.
"What?, Huh? Ethan?" I responded, trying to wake from my deep slumber.
"Mommy, my throat really hurts. I can barely swallow." The sickness, altering his voice so it was not familiar to me.
A very painful cough spilled from his mouth and I nearly clutched my own chest in reaction. His pain is my pain, his suffering is my very own.
"Ok, well, get in bed with me. You don't have to have to go to school today," I said.
As he climbed into bed, I heard him whisper, "Mommy, can I have some snuggle?"
The world could have stopped at that moment and nothing would have kept me from saying yes. My handsome, sweet, loving son who has been testing his independence for a little while. The son who shows a bit of embarrassment when I come in for that public kiss or hug. But now, he needs me and I am there to cozy up with him, rub and kiss his forehead and hold him as long as he will let me.
As he crawled into bed and nestled into my neck, I could hear the soft, wheezing sound of his breathing. After a while, I exited the bed to get some medicine to ease his pain.
The morning ritual dictated that I move along in preparing for the day, getting the other two ready for school. But, I checked back on him, periodically, to see how he was faring. Every time, he gave me this little smile that reminded me of when he was just an infant - vulnerable, innocent and delicious.
On my ride home from depositing the girls at their various locations, I anticipated my morning with my only son, alone. For an all too brief 18 months, I had him all to myself before his sister burst onto the scene. I recall working puzzle after puzzle with him as my belly grew larger and larger, the contents of which would alter his life forever.
Now, 8 years later, here he is. Nearly grown it seems. My memories of those early years frozen in the pictures now at home in my scrapbooks.
If he needs me only today, he knows all of me will be there. And, when he is done, I will still be there, keeping watch, waiting for his call again.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Marriage is not designed to make you happy, but to make you holy.
Marriage is all about sacrifice.
Marriage is not 50-50, but each giving 100.
We have no "rights" in this world as God is sovereign.
For me, the second and third are a given, but I am really struggling with the first statement. Well, ok, a bit with the last one, too. In another season, I would have said, "Sure, without a doubt, yeah." But, that season was smooth, easy sailing, along slow-moving waters. And, now, I see other marriages, and a tad of mine too, with turbulent times, tough painful decisions, lack of understanding, and disappointments.
I can maybe believe statement number 1 when I put it under the context of suffering. And, I am not suffering. Not in comparison of others. Suffering can be our time of greatest growth, our time of a closeness to Him, a reliance so incredible that after it is over, we would almost welcome the suffering again if only to experience Him at that level again. I recall a story about a man who lost his wife and child in an automobile accident. It took a very long time for him to recover, obviously. But in the end, his comment was that he almost felt sorry for someone who had not dealt with that level of loss because they would not have felt Him, experienced Him, breathed Him in and had total reliance on Him as he had. Heavy.
In my own life, there was a period of time at the end of Ansley's journey, when I did not walk on my own. I was being carried. It was unlike anything I ever had felt before. I described it as a wind tunnel. I was clinging to the edge, the wind was very strong and forceful and it was from God. Everything that was being thrown at me was just blown away by His breath. I was never terrified or worried because I was surrounded by Him, His Holy Spirit. I long for that again.
I can also believe that statement when I think about our emotions. They are unreliable, ever-changing and fleeting. Feelings change from day to day, but only the word of God remains true. Happiness comes from this world, but joy, ahh, that is a different thing altogether. True lasting joy comes from Him and Him alone. A level that is unobtainable from anything on this world. Therefore, if our focus is on Him, never wavering, does it really matter if we are "unhappy?"
But given the context of humanity and all of its sin, when do we have the "right" to stand-up for ourselves. Is there a clear, biblical line that delineates what man can do to another? I live by the mantra "die to self." Fail daily at it, but still believe it. And I understand that life on this earth is a blink of eye in light of eternity, therefore, does any of it really, really matter? God forgave Israel over and over and over. Being submissive and being a doormat...where is the proverbial line in the sand?
Think about it. Let me know your thoughts. Right underneath this post is the word, "comment." Please use it today. Thanks.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
When I opened up my blog several months ago, I knew that I might be setting myself up for negativity, or worse, apathy. However, upon receiving some encouragement, I decided to actually solicit my friends to glance over it. I had hoped to get some dialogue going and well, that hasn't happened too much. On the flip side, what has happened, much to my utter surprise, has been well, cry-inducing, speechless rendering, stun creating...compliments. Seriously, people, I am so completely undeserving, but derive much pleasure in the fact that you get any amount of enjoyment out of reading my blather!
Everyone has a little dream that they keep a candle burning for. I can't say I have always wanted to be a writer. Growing up I have kept journals (now those are hilarious), but only in the last three or four years, has it become a flame in my heart. I just, at this moment, realized the beginning in all of this for me. Wow. It was Ansley. It was those email updates I kept going for three years about her condition and ultimately her death. Just another lasting mark on my life that she made. Ok, I am crying now. I love her.
This morning, I heard a song on a new CD I bought recently. I had heard the song on the radio but never really listened to the lyrics. It is a great song and despite what even I perceive as a bit cheesy, I will post the lyrics and a link to hear the song.
"Set the World On Fire" by Britt Nicole.
I wanna set the world on fire
Until it`s burning bright for You
It`s everything that I desire
Can I be the one You use?
I, I am small but
You, You are big enough
I, I am weak but
You, You are strong enough to
Take my dreams
Come and give them wings
Lord with You
There`s nothing I can not do
Nothing I cannot do
I wanna feed the hungry children
And reach across the farthest land
And tell the broken there is healing
And mercy in the Father`s hands
My hands my feet
My life, my love
Lord, use me
I wanna set the world on fire
I wanna set the world on fire, yeah
I`m gonna set the world on fire
Set the world on fire
I hesitate to even write about this. My thoughts are - I am not a writer, what if I am humiliated, embarrassed by this post next year when I have failed, who do I think I am, do I have the nerve to actually write this down for the world to read?, is this really just pride?, what about the reaction of others who are much better writers, just who do I think I am? Basically, a lot of doubt. But here I go...into the DEEP. Please hang on with me, ok?
My prayer is that if this is God's will for me, that He will continue to keep this flame burning, that He will open doors to those that need to hear, that I may have the support from those near me, that my words will be authentic and real about a journey with Him - the triumphs, the failures, the mountain tops and the desert wanderings, and even the every day. I want to be used to His glory, an accurate estimation of who He is, not me, but Him. May you find inspiration in this song today - each one of us can set it on fire for Him...only because of Him.
Monday, January 26, 2009
I have never been crazed about Starbucks. Sure, I love the Pumpkin Spiced Latte as much as the next person, in all of its 14 g of fat and 330 calories. In fact, there is a little kick in my soul when I get a gift card. But, I have never bought into the notion that a great cup of coffee must cost you $5. The best cup of coffee I have ever purchased was from High Point Regional Hospital's little cafe off the lobby. I am not kidding. It was five years or so ago when Jay had his mild heart attack when I made this marvelous, yet stunning discovery. I enjoyed it so much, in fact, that I actually stopped at the hospital twice, for no other purpose, than to purchase a cup. However, after my own back surgery last year, I discovered that some person, lacking full mental capacity, had either altered the brand of coffee or the maker. Very disappointing.
I recall, too, before my surgery that a period of sickness, either viral or medicinally induced, brought with it a complete abhorring of coffee. It was shocking mentally and physically. My body fought the withdrawal (headaches, nausea, etc.) and I vowed that I would not return to my multi-cup a day habit. Alas, that last a month. `
Unfortunately, I am back where I started, one large, ok gigantic, travel mug a day. But, I am ok with that for now. And, to make it all possible, is the collection of coffee apparatuses that now occupy one section of our kitchen counter.
Actually, you can't see in this picture, there is one more green container labeled "Splenda" to the left. I drink my coffee black, always have, always will. However, my other half has to sweeten it up.
From the left:
Green container labeled "leaded": We don't use this as much as we used to as we are now grinding most of our coffee fresh.
Chrome mini-trashcan: This is for the quick disposal of grounds, pods, and Splenda packets. Really, my husband was too lazy to walk the extra 20 feet to the trashcan and requested this little device. It may be a European thing, too, as I think I recall little disposal containers sitting on most counter.
Coffee Maker #1 Breville Cafe Roman Cappucino Maker. This is our weekend coffee maker - when there is time to froth the milk, etc. Smooth and creamy. Very nice Saturday morning, lounging in bed, still in your pajamas coffee.
Capresso Conical Burr Grinder: The key to great coffee starts in the bean grinding process. When water is poured through the grounds, the water looks for the path of least resistance. When your coffee is not ground uniformly, the majority of the water follows that path, therefore diluting the flavor and strength. If your grounds are uniform and even, then the water flows through unvaryingly and thus...a great, full-bodied cup of coffee.
Coffee Maker #2: Philips Senseo. A great single or double cup of coffee with that perfect froth on top. Dutch brand, thus reliable and lovely. You have to buy the pods which can get expensive, but we order in bulk on Amazon. This maker is used on week mornings when time is very tight. It is quick and easy.
Coffee Maker #3 The old standby - Mr. Coffee. Not an elaborate system here and probably not a high grade coffee maker. But, it makes a large pot, can be programmed ahead (rarely happens) and shuts itself off after an hour preventing me from "burning down the house." This is our standard weekday maker, unless running short on time and then we revert to #2.
I might add that we have the BEST tasting water. It is well water and I am sure that it does add something into the coffee mix.
When friends get together in the Netherlands, it is always under the guise of having coffee. It was always, "let's get together for coffee." And, it actually happens...all the time. Relaxing, pleasant, laid-back, and always served with a great little coffee cookie. This consortium of comrades rarely happens in America. But why not? So, who's up for a cup and when are you coming over?
I am typing this at 5:52 am, having been up since 5:30 from the whine of a puppy. This is NOT my most productive time of the day. In fact, I found my ideal sleeping pattern over this Christmas vacation. For the first time ever, I was not tired all day, did not require a nap and was generally pleasant. Bedtime 11:30pm - wake time 9:00 am. That would be an astounding 10 hours of sleep. Adding to that, I had a nice 30 minute slumber with my morning cup, or 3, of coffee to really rev my engines.
My mom says that when I was younger, waking me up was extraordinarily difficult. I had a very rotten attitude and was pretty cantankerous. Thrust into the light before I am ready is loathsome. I think I see glimmers of this in my Ethan as he emits several groans when woken, but Sadie and Lily bound out of bed with some perkiness.
When I was in college, it was nothing to live on 5-6 hours of sleep. Staying up, snoozing late, running on empty is a rite of passage. Then, I graduated. I went abroad. I slept even more ridiculous hours as night life was well, the priority. And then, I was diagnosed with mono and I say to you, my body has never been the same. Exhaustion is my middle name and I can stay in bed sleeping...forever.
Sure, three kids don't help the constant nodding of my head. I have made doctor's appointments, just knowing that I had to have some sort of thyroid or iron condition that would give a medical reason for the fatigue. Nope. I even dabbled with thinking I was depressed. Not the case either. Just plain old weariness, I suppose.
Therefore, when I up at 5:30 in the morning, it does not bode well for my day. I think nap is in my future.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
In the meantime, I was sent an article by a friend that described a character trait of which someone possessing would be called a "scanner." At first, I wasn't really sure how to interpret the article. I mean, was it to shed light on some deficit on my part? Or was it to aid me in digging deep into my being?
Here are the positive excerpts from the article along with any possible applicable comments:
Scanners love to read and write, to fix and invent things, to design projects and businesses, to cook and sing, and to create the perfect dinner party. (You'll notice I didn't use the word "or," because Scanners don't love to do one thing or the other; they love them all.)
I can see this. I love everything listed above, actually.
A Scanner might be fascinated with learning how to play bridge or bocce, but once she gets good at it, she might never play it again.
I was completely obsessed with Soduku at one point and once I mastered the most difficult puzzles, I quit playing. I can see this also happening with Rock Band.
The same might be said about my volunteer commitments. I taught several bible study classes (been there, done that), coordinated three years' worth of retreats (time to move on), volunteered for tutoring (class graduated). There is just too much out there I want to try, I guess, and it is hard to stay onto one track for the rest of my life.
Scanners don't think what other people are doing is empty. They're always curious to know "what's out there" and love to poke their noses into just about anything.
I love to hear everything about other people's hobbies. Why do they do it, how did they get interested in it, what are their goals. I want to learn what you know.
99 percent of Scanners spend a lot of time scanning the horizon, thinking about their next move.
Maybe. Not too sure on this one. But, I do have a list of things I would like to do in my lifetime. Does that count? I have not completely relinquished the following ideas, even how far out of reality they are (and I KNOW they are): owning a restaurant (going to culinary school), opening up a scrapbook store, writing a novel, being a public speaker (motivator), teaching, being a diplomat, learning to play another instrument, getting involved in politics. Just to name a few...
To Scanners the world is like a big candy store full of fascinating opportunities, and all they want is to reach out and stuff their pockets.
I love how this is written. Just love it. And, this probably sums up my view of life.
Here are the struggles that Scanners face:
I spent years frustrating myself and everyone around me with my constant jumping from one thing to another. What I learned about myself eventually is that I knew deep down what I should be doing all along, but was simply too scared to commit myself to it. The constant stream of alternative ideas was simply an advanced avoidance technique.
Scared to commit. That line bothers me, but only because it is true. I want to get my MFA in Creative Writing, but I don't know if I can pass the GRE or if I can stick out going to college classes which were incredibly tough to attend when I didn't have a family and responsibilities. But why won't I try, at least? Maybe I would with encouragement and support from those closest to me, but that is usually not the case.
I think I've always avoided what I really want to do because I was afraid I'd be mediocre, or fail completely, so I'd keep changing my mind before I produced anything that could be judged.
Departments of literature, the humanities, even history were seen as irrelevant luxuries. And with that decline in respect came a radical change in the stature of Scanners. No longer described as "well-rounded," "Renaissance people," or "erudite," almost overnight they were seen as irrelevant, silly, irresponsible.
How many times have I made a comment about my well-deserved degree? My "all-job procuring" American Studies, a liberal arts degree that enabled me to dabble in varied courses of study - literature, religion, photography, history, etc. How may times have I answered the question of "what's that?" and feeling like I wasted my 4 years in Chapel Hill? Even during college I constantly questioned if I had made the right choice of colleges, considered leaving for a smaller school, considered taking a year or two off because I just didn't know what I wanted to do. I graduated and moved abroad to work as an au pair (nanny) because I still was undecided and wanted to explore the world.
The problem is, Scanners are starving in the candy store. They believe they're allowed to pursue only one path. But they want them all. If they force themselves to make a choice, they are forever discontented. But usually Scanners don't choose anything at all. And they don't feel good about it.
But at some point in high school or soon after, everyone was expected to make a choice, and that's when Scanners ran into trouble. While some people happily narrowed down to one subject, Scanners simply couldn't.
Well, ok, so I changed my major at Chapel Hill 7 times. International Relations (still dream of being an ambassador), Political Science (possible lawyer), Italian (for future life abroad), Advertising (was in the School of Journalism for a while and dreamed of working in a big firm in Chicago), English (but didn't really like Brit Lit), American Studies (because I had the most credits here and enjoyed the varied courses). I think I am missing one...forgot what it was!
My dear readers, what do you think? Is the term "scanner" a legitimate one? I think that there are actually more scanners than there are those that stick to one thing their entire lives, despite what the author says. And, if the "candy store" theory is correct, how in the world will I ever commit to anything? More importantly, how does this muddle things when are try to understand God's will in your life?
Friday, January 23, 2009
For those with older children, do these cycles continue but just appear in a different form as the move into the teen years? I hear they get worse, but then, I also hear that difficult children early on often become compliant, lovely teens and adults. I can hope.
This is the weary road for mothers. The time when you believe every battle fought has been futile, every brawl defeating, confrontations exhausting. And, yet, this what we have been called to do. Therefore, I shout the following from my rooftop to all mothers and maybe as a rally cry for myself:
We will win. We will win because God told us we would. We have His rules to teach and His blessing to do so. One day, we will bask in the fruits of our labor, the promises of obedience, respect, honor and love. Stay the course, woman, push yourself, shore yourself up with His word. Don't let them argue with you, beg you, plead with you or whine you into giving in. And in that final hour of the day, when you are consumed by exhaustion, your brain is mush, and every part of you feels like you are walking in the valley of the shadow of death - they see an open door. They think they have an edge. But I say to you, stand firm and don't budge an inch. Why? Because YOU ARE THE MOM and YOU SAY SO!
We Are Mothers!
We Are Mothers!
We Are Mothers!
And this from the mom who just gave in and let her children get a puppy. Sigh.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
1. Based on experience, a toothbrush (discarded after use) and bleach are the only ways to get poop cleaned out of whirlpool tub jets.
2. Boys can be way more dramatic than girls.
3. Squirrels drink a lot of water. I could really make this whole list about squirrels, but will refrain.
4. A man, a chainsaw and an ATV can be a scary combination.
5. No matter where I go in my house, my children will find me in less than 90 seconds.
6. You can either live to eat or eat to live. It makes a difference.
7. Red dyed drinks are a pox to humanity. A leaking cup of red drink in a cart full of groceries is a major, major mess to you, your groceries and the poor employee who must follow your trail throughout the store with a mop.
8. Words of encouragement, affirmation and appreciation can never be heard enough.
9. Every child will decide they hate every single food, including their favorite, at some point in their lives so at some point every food has been hated. Don't believe them!
10. Every person in your circle brings something to your life. When they are gone, that something usually goes with them, never forgotten, yet never experienced in that form again.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Puppies have to be one of the highlights of God's creation. Is there one person who can look at a puppy and not have a smile, ever so small, on their lips. I just don't think it is humanly possible. Is it in their sweet, innocent eyes? Is it the whimper for nothing but affection that draws us in? Is it their need to only be loved? Is it that wagging tail that flurries toward, declaring it is simply happy to see us? Or, is it how they seem most content just sleeping in our laps? Innocence portrayed in such a small little form.
Her fatty little paws, long floppy ears, little wagging tail that seems to go on and on, her short, stubby little legs that send her flying down the hall, her ability to pounce on a chew toy like a ferocious lion taking down a wildebeest, and her pathetically innocent and wide-open eyes that can look up at me with such sweetness - well, they add up to nothing but puppy love. And, I am smitten for sure.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Pounding, hurried footsteps
Requesting to not to wake the others
Noise from the others being woken to the news of snow fall
Begging for snow clothes stored in the hall closet
In and out the door
Mud, ice and snow boot prints all over the floor
Cold hands that stung against warm skin
Red glowing cheeks
Piles of wet, dirty hats, scarves, boots and bibs
Requests for hot chocolate at 8:30 am
The acrid smell of vinegar on the floor
Two children splashing in the bath tub
Steaming, creamy tomato soup and cheese toast
Settling in to watch history
Remembering this moment and how it was marked
The melodious sounds of classical music and children basking in it
Answering a million questions about government, inaugurations, national security
Discussing life in the White House
Announcement of future presidential ambitions by one
A time of gathering clouds and raging storms
Indicators of crisis, nagging fear
Chose hope over fear, unity over discord
Celebrate the risk-takers, who have carried us to prosperity and freedom
We are ready to lead once more
Our patchwork heritage is our strength
New era of responsibility that we seize gladly
Snow day returns
Piles of laundry
School projects to complete
One goes down for a rub and a nap
Refereeing the fights, the squabbles
Dinner to prepare
Monday, January 19, 2009
We were told we were a very unique class, one of the largest, yet, one of the brightest, ambitious and most importantly closest class to pass through our school in a while. We were brought together as a class, because of where our parents chose to raise us. Fates of geography. Due to the stagnant and consistent nature of our school's rural, farming area, most of us found each other early in our school years. And, we remained together with little change except for hair styles until graduation. So, what happens after a 20 year separation?
With the advent of facebook, I am reconnected with people I last remember having hair that defied gravity and acid wash jeans, girls who swooned over George Michael and guys who banged it out to Guns n' Roses. People that seemed to have been frozen in time in my mind as they were then - when our only focus was getting out of there and moving on with life.
A few of you, I spoke only a few words to over those years. I missed out on your strengths and experiences. I didn't see what our teachers obviously did. I regret that.
What has happened to you during these 20 years? I wonder how closely you are to that person who walked out of those doors some years ago. Marriages, divorces, children - born and lost, weight loss and weight gain, hair loss and dare I say, hair gain. I am sure there has been death, grief and heartaches, along with joys and celebrations. Dreams realized, dreams forgotten, dreams unfulfilled. Religious experiences, talents revealed, worldly travels, evolving careers and most assuredly, a quest to understand our purpose on this planet. All of that molding you into who you are now.
I know that through life's triumphs and trials, I have shed most of my insecurities that inhibited me from reaching out to others during those last 4 years of teenage torture. I see very little of that person who walked those halls, terrified of the critical eye of others which parlayed itself into some sort of falsely perceived snobbery. And, as much as we thought we knew each other then, I wonder how that is possible. How could we have ever really known each other if we didn't know who we were ourselves?
But now, it is time to reunite. A group of people brought together for their education. Shared experiences during the most tumultuous times of our lives. But why have this reunion? To relive the laughter, the tears, the highs and the lows - not only of those school years, but to share what life has thrown at us since. May we enter with compassion and less judgment and open ourselves to learn what each of us brings to the mighty class of '89.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Years ago, when she was a bit over 3, I recall coming out of my bedroom from feeding baby Lily to find a maze of dental floss running throughout our house - upstairs, around door knobs, down the stairs and through the railings, under the sofa, into the kitchen, around cabinet knobs and winding through the bar stools. Who knew all that floss in that little itty bitty container was soooooooo long?
"Oh Saaa-dieeeeee..... What is all of this?" I said with some perplexity and irritation.
"Mommy. I made a trap to catch the giants," she replied.
Clever, Creative, Curious. My little Sadie.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Lily: A-hind you, that bowl.
Me: Lily, it is "behind" you.
Lily: Ok, that bowl is "a-be-hind" you.
Ethan: (sitting beside me on the sofa) Mommy, your neck is so soft.
Me: That is a little random, Ethan. But, thanks, I guess.
There has been much discussion about the neighbor's puppies as of late. Naturally, this topic includes the creation of the puppies. And, so, this is Ethan's reasoning at age 8.
Ethan: How are the puppies 1/2 beagle and 1/2 dachshund?
Me: Well, Dixie is the mom and Boom-Boom is the dad.
Ethan: Oh, so, they decided to get married and then had puppies?
Me: Ummmm, yeah.
A few days later, he explained this to one of our carpoolers on the way to school. "See, they got married and then had puppies." I'll let him just go with that for the time being. I have no idea how he thinks they got married (did they have a little dog ceremony or what?). I am just not prepared to provide any more details/corrections at the present.
We are planning a family trip to go skiing in a couple weeks. It will be the first time for the girls, as Ethan has been with scouts. It dawned on me that Lily has no clue what we are talking about. She just knows she wants to go. After every requested task I ask of her, she asks me, "And then we are going skiing?" At which I reply, "No, that is in a couple of weeks." Then she cries like I have told her I don't love her anymore. We repeat this exhausting cycle about 8 times a day. Despite my numerous attempts at trying to explain the trip planning process, the time it takes to travel to the mountains and even just the plain old calendar, she just does not get it.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
1. My new 2009 Cooking Light cookbook. I made braised Chinese spare ribs, Thai chicken and some chipotle chicken burgers. Has brought me back to how much I love to be in the kitchen.
2. Jeff Buckley. Period. The more I listen to his music, the more I am enraptured. What took me so long to hear this? Why isn't everyone listening to him?
3. Marvelous bath bubble stuff my neighbor gave me for Christmas. Sweet, yet not overpowering. I feel like I am at a luxurious spa when I use it. Finding that I am spending a lot more time in the bathtub these days (even in the middle of the day!).
4. Writing. I must be in the zone. Not that the writing has been all that noteworthy, but it has been satisfactory to my heart. I resolved myself to blog the first 30 days of the year and have enjoyed every minute of it. Enjoying the idea, just the inkling of a notion, of taking a writing course. Mulling it over, just letting it sort of sit and marinate a bit in my mind.
5. New friends, old friends. Yay for facebook! I have reconnected with friends that I never forgot in my heart, but in this period of life had. Remembering them has been sweet.
6. The white paper narcissus that my mom gave me on Christmas Day. It has finally bloomed and it is just divine.
7. My beloved Rock Band drums. Who knew that in the depths of my soul there was a drum set beating, just waiting to get out!
8. Puppies. Our very eclectic, somewhat eccentric neighbor, Jerry, has some puppies. They are the blend of Dixie, the beagle, and Boom-Boom, the dachshund. We take frequent trips over to just get some love. They are beyond adorable with their fat little paws, puppy bellies and little whimpers. They only want to be held and we are much too eager to oblige.
What brings you a little smile today? Have you thanked someone for it?
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
I honed in on that line this morning - "giving Him our best." I mean, I say it so often that it has almost become commonplace. A bit sad. It struck me that giving Him our best is really just giving back to Him what he has already given to us - His gifts to us.
Dear friend, I know you are at a crossroads in your life. There is no doubt that you are wallowing in the unknown and that these are low times. The realities of life are rearing their collective ugly heads and you are forced to look at them squarely in the eyes. The future, as you can see, is full of unhappiness, terrible turmoil and anxiety and you can not see a way out of this suffocating darkness. It is scary.
But you are here at these crossroads for a reason. Your journey, mapped out by God, includes this position on the plat. My friend, you have been given gifts. Gifts of compassion and patience. Gifts of gentleness and tenderness. You were given them for this precise time in your life. Now, you are to use them. Trust in His divine plan and give Him the best part of you - that part that He has given you. This is your chance to shine.
He knows what he is asking of you. He knows it will be difficult. There will be days, days where you are completely spent. Where the weight of the circumstances pound you like torrential rain and you will beg for relief. In that moment, He will be there. And, that is where He wants you.
Surrender, my friend. Let go of trying to figure it all out, to make sense of it all. And maybe, for the first time in your life, keep your eyes on Him, give Him your best, and leave Him to take care of the rest.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Lily happily picked out her own clothes - which I let her wear without any of my usual critique (I know, let it go). Sadie and Ethan prepared their own breakfasts and lunches. There was time for conversation. There was time for a puzzle. There was even time for, gasp, Rock Band. Delightful.
Jay was still in bed, but working on his laptop. Little Lovey came running in with a monkey puppet on her hand. "Daddy, Daddy," she said. "Look at my monkey." Jay responded, "Oh yeah? Isn't that cute." And with that she laid the monkey on the bed and did a little gallop out of the room. As she neared the door she said, "I love you, Daddy." And a few steps later shouted out, "Oh, and you, too, monkey. I love you, toooooooooooo." And with that, she was out the door.
That is Lily, really. Always overflowing with love. When meeting someone for the first time, her enthusiasm bursts forth in a hug. Strangers in our house are quickly given the once over. If they bestow on her the tiniest bit of attention, they will find themselves the object of her warmth. If I plant myself on the sofa, or anywhere for that matter, she soon finds me. Quickly joining me, she immediately requests some "snuggle." As I respond, she slowly slinks closer and closer until she is nearly in my lap and there she asks for me to "wub" (aka rub) her leg, or tummy or arm. Her teachers tell me she is the sweetest, most giving child they have this year, randomly stop her activity in order to give the teachers or other classmate some lovey.
I have a very difficult time turning down her requests for love. Obviously, there are times when it just isn't plausible whether there are tasks to complete or we are short on time, whatever. But, the real reason is that it is a clear trait that came straight to her from Ansley, my sister who passed away from breast cancer 2 years ago. What a blessing to see that part of her in one of my own.
I grew up rubbing Ansley's arm. I know it sounds unusual, but through our formative years, she would ask me to rub her arm. It helped her go to sleep and relax. And, truthfully, she threatened me if I didn't do it! As we grew older of course, it didn't happen as often. But, as Ansley grew sicker, her requests returned, more frequently. Often times it was all I could offer up to try to ease her pain.
So, when my little Lily comes to me for that loving touch, that "wub" as she calls it. I don't turn her down. This life is fleeting. And, I would do anything to be able to rub her arm again.
Monday, January 12, 2009
A struggling day I am having. There is a reoccurring dream that I have had for at least the last 20 years. Each time I go through this cycle, it seems more and more plausible, more easily obtained. Even though, in reality, it couldn't be further from that. I know, that to everything there is a season and it is clearly not that season for me. I must forget the sweet thoughts that put me to sleep each night and wake me each morning as I ponder the possibilities. Now, painfully, I am searching, yearning, for the peace in my heart in light of that revelation.
I find myself heading out on what I know is the correct course, but will shed a few tears over my own personal loss, once again. Today, I can't pause to think about what I want and what fulfills me. Today, like every other day, it must be about others and their needs. My prayer is that the hole that remains of this dream will be filled by the blessing of waiting for His timing.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Yes, you are in the right place. Just making some upgrades. I have seen quite a few blogs lately with fun backgrounds reminding me of my favorite hobby - scrapbooking. I couldn't resist this color combination, one of my favorites as of late (lime green & black).
In moving things around and editing, I thought about my blog name, "Flying on Wings Like Eagles," and this picture (left). The name, if you don't know, comes from my favorite scripture:
but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31
I looked at this picture and saw the clear picture of trusting in the Lord or trusting in ourselves. You see, we all have the proclivity to try to fly ourselves to happiness and self-worth. We try using our own resources, our own emotions, our own WILL. What it amounts to is some very pathetic, and sometimes humorous little chicken wings. They may temporarily get us off the ground, making a whole lot of ruckus in the process. We may even have a momentary satisfaction of achieving something on our own. But, quickly gravity thrusts us back down to earth. Reality check. We are only a tiny step from where we were before.
On the flip side we can make the firm decision to trust in the Lord. His design for us and His WILL for us - in ALL things. And, then we don't flap and squawk. We aren't standing on our own, working and fighting for flight. Instead, we take one big leap of faith and He does the rest. We just enjoy the flight, soaring above our circumstances, soaring above our suffering.
I went parachuting about 11 years ago. (more on that later) The relevance is that the sound you hear when you are high in the air is of...nothing. Complete silence, unlike any I have ever heard. The world below me, all of it - the pain, the unhappy circumstances, the grief - far, far away. Momentarily, I saw something I had not see before. The larger picture of the world.
And, so, that is where I want to be. Focusing on the larger picture which I can only see when I trust in Him, rising above it all. I can't get there on my own little wings. And, I want this vision - not just momentarily, but every day. I want a new look, a new perspective.
Thursday, January 08, 2009
Page 89: This health problem or accident was very scary for my family:
O-K. This could be a very lengthy blog. I could spend pages of revisiting Jay's heart attack or Ansley's breast cancer, but am not compelled to go there at the moment. Instead, I will talk about what came in the mail today. An envelope with a pretty pink butterfly in the outside, invoking a innocent essence. But, the return address, The Breast Center of Greensboro, would indicate otherwise. It was my reminder letter that it is time for me to schedule my 6-month MRI follow-up to my little "scare" in August. To set the background go here.
There is no reason to be uptight about this in all reality. They didn't find anything in those 2 core needle biopsies, except some cystic disease that is usally caused by too much caffiene. I mean, I have a 1 in 4 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer in my lifetime verses 1 in 8 for the rest of the female population. So, I suppose that is something. But, it is still a bunch of conjecture of random facts, in my opinion. Nevertheless, I can't seem to let this just roll off my back. That envelope just sits there on the counter adding to the weight that dropped suddenly in my stomach upon its arrival.
Breast cancer is scary for my family because it came out of nowhere, like a high-speed train on a collision course. One day we were all healthy and the next, one of us was dying. It radically changed our lives and tried to control us for 3 years. It took the best part of our family from us. The mention of it brings a little ache in my heart and I suppose that will never go away.
There is no question that I will always get my yearly mammos and MRIs. Won't give it a second thought. And, I am hopeful this will be the only time I am requested to come at a 6-month interval. My appointment is in February.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Sadie: Mommy, after you get married, why do you go on a honeymoon?
Me: So, you can spend time with your new husband, just the two of you, alone.
Sadie: If you get married again, I mean, if your first husband dies and you get remarried, do you get to go on another honeymoon?
Me: I suppose so.
Sadie: Cooooool. Well, I am never going to get remarried.
Me: Why is that, Sadie?
Sadie: Because I know that there is just one special boy for me.
Me: Do you know what, Sadie?
Me: I already pray to God about your husband. That he is being raised to know how to love you, shower you with love.
Me: Yes, really.
Sadie: You know, and its ok if he is a little silly. I will still love him.
Me: Yeah, Sadie. I think he will need to be a little silly and crazy. That will be just perfect, perfect for you.
A friend posed the following question to me recently:
Did you marry the person you did because of who they were and qualities they possessed, or did you marry them because of their potential?
It reminds me that love is not a feeling. It is a decision and a commitment. The person you marry is not perfect, but they are perfect for you. And, that which brought you together in the first place, may not be what still attracts you. It evolves and changes. But, the decision and commitment does not. It is with this resolve that we can be one-man girls.
Monday, January 05, 2009
Found out there is a new taste sensation in town. Don't think I learned about this in school when regurgitating factoids about the tongue and its various bud areas. So, check this out:
In addition to sweet, salty and bitter, our tongues are capable of detecting a fifth taste known as umami. First identified by a Tokyo professor, umami (loosely translated as "delicious essence "is often described as a savory or meaty taste. These foods are rich umami:
Aged cheeses such as Parmigiano-Reggiano
Mushrooms, particularly portobellos, shittakes, porcini
Cured pork such as prosciutto
Smoked or cured fish
Asian fish sauce
soy sauce and miso
I find this list of gastronomical favors intriguing. On one hand, I find immeasurable delight in a fresh from the summer garden tomato and mayo sandwich. But, clearly find anything related to seafood despicable. Wish I loved creatures from the sea, but I just don't. Love the prosciutto and dig some good aged cheese. The latter is an awesome way to use cheese, yet, cut down on the calories when cooking.
I'll throw out a question for the day. You can answer in your mind, pondering it for the day. Or, you can feel free to write your answer in the comments section.
What one particular food do you like to savor in all of its "delicious essence"? Oh, and remember that word, umami, as it looks like a great one for scrabble, crosswords, or the like.
And then, we have today. I knew that it would be a tough afternoon - first day back to school after a long Christmas break. Over the past two weeks, we deviated from our normal schedule quite a bit (later bedtimes, later wake times, more t.v. than usual, extra sweets, limited responsibility) and I knew that getting back into normalcy would be require patience and diligence on my part. But, I still wasn't prepared for Ethan's attitude and question as he prepared to complete his homework.
Ethan: Mom, you said you were going to order us lunch in January.
Me: I'm sorry, Ethan, I forgot with the holidays. I think at the time we were trying to hold our expenses down as money was a little tight. Plus, you had to order December and January at the same time.
Ethan: Well, you promised.
Me: I am sorry, but you need to understand that sometimes my intention can't always work out.
Ethan: (tears starting to well) Well, everybody orders on Moe's day (Mexican day). I am embarrassed when I have to eat my packed lunch.
Me: Are you serious?
Ethan: (with more anger and less crying) Well, why don't you order my lunch? Everybody orders. I am the only one who doesn't. It is embarrassing to be the only one to walk to the tables instead of going through the line. It is not fair.
Me: (really trying to control my temper). Ethan, can I tell you what I not fair? Only getting one meal a day. Or better yet, being 8 and dying of starvation because you are given NOTHING to eat. There is nothing for days and days and days. And, you come to me with anger and tears because you are embarrassed by your food?
Me: Come here, Ethan. (he hesitated, so I had to repeat myself) Come here. Instead of thinking about all the things you don't have. Instead of this attitude of complete ungratefulness, I want you to focus on the fact that God has given you food to eat - every day He has given you food to eat. You need to apologize and ask for forgiveness and Ethan, thank Him.
So, he came into my arms and he prayed. His eyes filled with tears as he listed reasons to be thankful, and he apologized to me and to his Father.
I know in his heart he knew his transgressions. But, I know this won't be the last time we visit this topic. For children that are afforded opportunities and given nearly everything they would ever want, things are never enough. With the holidays behind us, schedules returning to normal and a new year upon us, I think it is time for me to evaluate my parenting plan. I know I need to continue building on where my children place their own self-worth. Comparisons to others is only going to multiply and they need to know where to put their gratitude.
Sunday, January 04, 2009
I read the following article today:
Take heart, scientists have discovered that people can have a love that lasts a lifetime.
Using brain scans, researchers at Stony Brook University in New York have discovered a small number of couples respond with as much passion after 20 years together as most people only do during the early throes of romance, Britain's Sunday Times newspaper reported.
The researchers scanned the brains of couples together for 20 years and compared them with results from new lovers, the Sunday Times said.
About 10 percent of the mature couples had the same chemical reactions when shown photographs of their loved ones as those just starting out.
Previous research has suggested that the first stages of romantic love fade within 15 months and after 10 years it has gone completely, the newspaper said."The findings go against the traditional view of romance -- that it drops off sharply in the first decade -- but we are sure it's real," said Arthur Aron, a psychologist at Stony Brook, told the Sunday Times.
In my circle of friends and well, into my acquaintances, I think I know two couples that fall into the category of "love of a lifetime." They still hold hands, always speak fondly of each other and talk with giddiness when seeing their spouse after a period of separation.
What I really want to know is what is it that they have that 90% of other couples don't? Have they faced serious tragedy in their lives? Do they live life in the slow lane versus the fast lane? Do they have spiritual lives? Or, have they reached a point where they have forgotten themselves and focus solely on their spouse and his or her needs? Is it all about when they first met - their maturity level, etc? Is there a point of no return - meaning, if you "lost that loving feeling," can you ever get it back?
I am sure there is book out there in the published world that examines such relationships. If so, can someone please tell me what it is? Or, if you are one of the lucky 10%, would you please let me know?
Saturday, January 03, 2009
That is what she told me yesterday in the car. "Gray, honey, what's wrong?" "I just want a Mommy." I had to hold back my own emotions in my response. "Oh, honey, I pray for God to bring you the most perfect mommy for you in the whole world. I know He has one for you and is waiting for just the right moment to bring her to you."
They have experience much turmoil and change since she passed. Three different houses, three different schools, three different inconsistent churches and one parent who is lost. Without going into much detail, for my own emotional well-being and for the privacy of those involved, there has been a chaotic influence in their lives which has exposed them to ideas, images, words, anger, rejection and instability that shouldn't be for a 7 year old. I really can't fathom feeling, as a child, that you have been abandoned.
Lily tripped down the stairs today and she cried for me. She wasn't hurt, but really scared. I rushed to her and held her until she was ready to bee bop back up the stairs to play. My thoughts wandered to Gray. I cried, knowing that she is alone when she trips down the stairs or is scared.
I wonder how terrible that sting is when she sees the other mommies dropping their kids of for school. When it is time for school programs, who is there as a witness? Who teaches her how to dress and behave like a lady? Why must independence be thrust upon her at a time when little girls need to be cuddled, loved, cherished and taught?
It has been a tremendous struggle for me to watch this. My own irateness and helplessness over this nearly drove me to my own demise last year this time. The only way I surmised to recover myself, was to take a giant step back. Although, many times, this decision was made for me as when I was around the truth was obvious.
I know my heart can't wrap itself around the bigger picture at the moment. As I watch this situation continue to spiral downward, my questioning grows. Even though my head knows the scriptural answers to this question, my heart begs for a different answer, an end to all of this madness. Why, God, my loving Father, why are you ordaining this - allowing this, creating this?
Friday, January 02, 2009
by Emily Dickinson
A free bird leaps on the back of the wind
and floats downstream till the current ends
and dips his wing in the orange suns rays and dares to claim the sky.
But a bird that stalks down his narrow cage
can seldom see through his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.
The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
of things unknown but longed for still
and his tune is heard on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.
The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn and he names the sky his own.
But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied so he opens his throat to sing.
The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
of things unknown but longed for still
and his tune is heard on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom.
My day was filled with much of the usual - cooking, laundry, some vacuuming, and dishes. No surprise here. This is such a natural part of my daily routine that it would have marked a decidedly different year for me if I hadn't.
But there were some unexpected moments, too. We had overnight guests, long-time friends of ours, who spent New Year's Eve with us. Not only do I hope this friendship has been rekindled, but I hope to spend more time with friends, spontaneously, this year. The cackling and laughing was of epic proportions, something that brought to light that I don't do very much laughing any more. That has got to change.
I don't know how I managed this either, since I didn't hit the bed until about 2 am, but I wasn't tired. Not one moment during the entire day. And, I wasn't all hyped up on caffeine, either. That would be a tremendous bonus for this year! I think I spent most of last year trying to find my way through the morning fog until my java fix kicked in. Then, would drag myself through the afternoon slump until dinner time. Collapsing in my own bed as soon as the kids were their beds at 8. Yeah, that definitely has to change.
And, there was time with family. Mom, John, Colby and Gray came over for lunch. Strained relationships did not always allow for me to spend time with my favorite niece and nephew last year. This first day visit, I hope, bodes well for 2009. I also sat on my sofa and just talked to my mom, not feeling the pressure to also accomplish some other task in the process. It was lovely.
I think the tradition of making a New Year's resolution has passed in some ways. As most resolutions are broken or forgotten by the end of January, is there really a purpose in them? We set goals for ourselves all year and I find that those set anywhere except January 1 tend to be a tad more successful. I wonder why that is?
But, despite my near animosity toward resolutions, I am still inclined to toy with the idea of setting some goals. And.....drum roll please....here they are:
1. To laugh more, enjoy life more. To be more spontaneous.
2. To document my life more consistently whether in blogging, scrapbooking or other means.
3. To serve others in my community. To find my place, my niche, which I currently don't have.
4. To find myself spiritually again. This became a little muddled in 2008. Note to self: future blog topic.
5. OK, so this is silly, but well, I will still type it despite a very high probability of being ridiculed for it - to be able to play ONE song on the drums at the expert level of Rock Band.
And, #6, Get rid of this squirrel!